Passport & Consular Services

Can I Change My Category under a J-1 Visa?

Yes, it is possible to change your category or program under a J-1 visa in certain circumstances. However, the process and eligibility requirements for changing categories can vary depending on your specific situation. Here are some important points to consider:

Program Sponsor Approval: Before changing your category, you must obtain the approval of your J-1 program sponsor, the organization that issued your DS-2019 form. They will assess your eligibility for a category change based on program regulations and their own policies.

Program Objectives: The program sponsor will evaluate whether the proposed change aligns with the objectives and purpose of the J-1 visa program. The new program or category should be consistent with the goals of cultural exchange, education, research, or training.

Program Availability: The availability of the desired program or category is an important factor. The program sponsor should have the ability to offer the new program or category and provide the necessary support and oversight.

Eligibility Criteria: Each J-1 program category has specific eligibility criteria. To change to a different category, you must meet the requirements and qualifications for that particular category. For example, if you want to change from a J-1 student category to a J-1 research scholar category, you would need to meet the eligibility criteria for the research scholar category.

Timing and Process: It is essential to consult with your J-1 program sponsor early on if you are considering a category change. They will provide guidance on the process, including any necessary paperwork or documentation, and advise you on the appropriate timing for submitting your request.

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement: If you are subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement (foreign residence requirement), changing your category may not exempt you from fulfilling the requirement. You would still need to meet the obligation of residing in your home country or country of last legal permanent residence for a cumulative period of two years before being eligible for certain nonimmigrant visas or permanent residency in the United States.

It’s important to note that changing your category under a J-1 visa is subject to the discretion and approval of your program sponsor and compliance with program regulations. It is advisable to consult with your program sponsor or an immigration attorney to understand the specific requirements and process for changing categories under your J-1 visa.

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